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Lada - the Car that Conquered the Russian Plain

Updated on April 27, 2015
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Mario Buildreps is a graduate engineer. Become aware of topics in a way you have never heard before.

Lada 2103

Lada 2103, an indestructible car.
Lada 2103, an indestructible car. | Source

Have You Ever Seen A Real Lada?

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History of Lada

In Russia the Lada (Лада) is also called VAZ (ВАЗ), named after the facory, AvtoVAZ. The export name became Lada.

The factory AvtoVAZ is situated in the region Oblast Samara, in the South-Western part of Russia, near the Border of Ukraine.

AvtoVAZ is the largest single car factory in the world with 180,000 employees and 90 miles of production lines.

The Lada 2103 is the most 'famous' Lada and the car that concurred Russian plains.

Lada became the ultimate icon of the former Soviet Union. Everywhere you come in the post Soviet Union, this car still dominates the streets. From white to black and from green to orange. Even purple metallic.

Fiat 124

The Fiat 124. The Lada was based on this Italian car.
The Fiat 124. The Lada was based on this Italian car. | Source

Lada Was Based on Fiat

The name Lada is established in 1966 when it started to built modified Fiats under license. The technique of the lighthearted Italians was too vulnerable to overcome the typical habitat where Fiat had to survive, the huge Russian plains, where every mile is comparable with 50 miles in Italy. So the Russians modificated the Fiats year by year until it finally became a real Lada.

April 19, 1970 the first Lada, the 2101 left the factory gates. The Lada was based on the best car of Europe in that time, the Fiat 124. The Fiat was not totally copied by the Russians - over 800 modifications were made in comparison with Fiat. The engine was jointly developed by FIAT and VAZ (Lada). The body and suspension were reinforced to endure the Russian roads.

While Fiat's where fancy, breezy and complicated, the Lada's became more solid and simple.

Like a Volkswagen Käfer (Beetle), a Lada can be repaired with a simple tool kit. This was one of the reasons that the Lada 2103 became so successful.

A pimped, tuned purple beauty
A pimped, tuned purple beauty | Source

Lada 2103 and Lada Niva

With the Lada 2105 and the Niva, the Lada's evolved into a real Russian car, simple, reliable and very solid. A car that always starts (even after 10 times trying) that can pull, take cargo and can suffer endlessly on the endless Russian plains day after day, year after year, decennial after decennial.

If you close the door of a modern car you hear a dark KLOINK. If you close the door of a Lada you hear a heavy metal BENG. Car makers are very busy to manipulate their clients and to let them believe they drive a safer car, based upon the KLOINK sounds that the doors produce.

A Lada was always a simple car and never manipulated their owners with fancy safety sounds of closing doors. No electrical windows or bling-bling lights every where on the dashboard. Only basic features. It makes the car very charming, while smelling to tectyl and hot oil and carrying the owner wherever they're going in the middle of nowhere without complaining.

Lada 2103 station wagon, an indestructible car - made for heavy loads, heavy pulling and bumpy roads.
Lada 2103 station wagon, an indestructible car - made for heavy loads, heavy pulling and bumpy roads. | Source

Beautiful From Ugliness

Lada was never so busy with environment or lambda sensors. The car usually consumes 1 liter on 8 kilometers and is not very environmental friendly. They can be stinky to oil, bad burned gasoline due to misfiring and the usual gasoline fumes that many maladjusted Lada's produce, especially when they suffered already 20 to 30 year. They nevertheless keep running in almost any situations.

A Lada is beautiful from ugliness. This is a good feature, because a cars beauty makes the owner worry while his car is bumping up and down over the terrible roads and worrying is not good for health. This makes the car even more then beautiful.

All men that have a Lada love their car deeply and even give it names, while she carries them over the impossible roads and endless plains, never letting them down. Even if she breaks down she continuous to run, similar with the Land Rover Defender.

This is why it is impossible not to love this car!

Lada 2103
Lada 2103 | Source
Lada 2101
Lada 2102 (station wagon)
Lada 2103
Lada Niva (ATV)
Lada 2108
Lada 21106 (sports model)
Lada 2120
Lada Roadster
Lada Niva II
Lada 2111 (station wagon)
Lada Kalina
Lada Largus
Lada Kalina II

Lada 2108

Together with the German engineers from Porsche, Lada developed a whole new type of car, the Lada 2108. With the help from the Germans the Russians were able to accomplish breakthrough like self-supporting body, polycarbonate windscreens and frameless doors.

This Lada would be the predecessor of a new type of more modern Lada's, like the Lada 110, Lada Kalina and Lada Priora.

A Russian 'SUV' Dragged Through the Mud


The economical sanctions by the West are starting to be visible in Russia's economy. But AvtoVAZ seems to profit from this sanctions, since the major car producer is making a revival. AvtoVAZ reported last month an upswing of 16% in sales. This is recently reported by The Moscow Times.

Russians in the post-Soviet era have become accustomed to the luxury Western cars, especially the impeccable German cars. Lada cannot compete with this high standard. It mostly thrives on patriotic feelings. Besides this devaluation of the Rouble made domestically produced goods more affordable than foreign imports.

Against the worsening economic backdrop, the Kremlin launched a scheme that gives cash incentives to Russians who buy new cars and sell their old cars for scrap iron.

But if the Lada 2100-series will revive like in the good old days is highly doubtful. In any case will this car continue to dominate the streetscape for many years to come.

© 2014 by Buildreps


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    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 3 years ago from Europe

      Thank you for your comment, Flourish. Nice that you are familiar now with the glorious Lada :) The differences were indeed huge between the US and Russia and still are. Interesting to know that you were there as well.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      It's so interesting to see the differences between what we have here in America vs. abroad based on style, economy, durability, etc. The vehicle needs are so different, and although I have never heard of the Lada I think I probably saw plenty of them on the streets when I visited the old Soviet Union many years ago.

    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 3 years ago from Europe

      Thanks for leaving this nice comment, AliciaC. I'm happy you liked it.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I don't often read hubs about cars, but this one is very interesting. It's definitely worth reading! I was amazed to read about a car factory that has 90 miles of production lines. Thanks for sharing the information about the Lada. It sounds like a unique car.

    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 3 years ago from Europe

      Thanks for dropping by, my friend :) And thanks for the compliment.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I've heard of them but never seen one up close and personal. Your articles are always interesting and for that I thank you.

    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 3 years ago from Europe

      Nice you dropped by, FatFreddy! I never saw that episode unfortunately. I saw the one where these guys tried to demolish an old Toyota Hilux. They had to do something similar :)

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 3 years ago from The Garden State

      Those are some tough cars. There was a great episode of the U.K. "Top Gear" show where Jeremy Clarkson spent the entire show trying to kill a Lada...unsuccessfully, till he finally pulled it apart by chaining it up between two giant dump trucks, haha!

    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 3 years ago from Europe

      Nice to see you here, Colleen! The absence of power steering was indeed a problem for most women. Good old memories :)

    • Colleen Swan profile image

      Colleen Swan 3 years ago from County Durham

      My Dad used to have one of these. Problem was that my mum didn't have the strength to turn the steering wheel. Nice article; brings back memories of family trips out in the car.